The drought and growing public acceptance have turned a process once derided as “toilet to tap” into something politically palatable, and water officials across San Diego County are planning to make reused wastewater drinkable and widespread within a matter of years.
In the city, a $2.85 billion multi-part project, branded Pure Water, is hoping to use wastewater to start producing 30 million gallons a day of drinkable water within the next six years. That’s two years sooner and twice as much water as envisioned just months ago.
“The drought has definitely pushed this project,” said John Helminski, the assistant director of the city of San Diego’s water department. “The fact that we don’t know how long the drought will last. We’re already in the fourth year of drought – if we continue, it could get a lot worse than it is today.”
The city is not alone. The Padre Dam Municipal Water District in East County and a separate group of North County water agencies are each pursuing major projects to recycle wastewater.